Amitabh Bachchan, Fardeen Khan, Kareena kapoor.
By Subhash K. Jha
Here's a film soundtrack that makes us want to throw our hands in the air...in a gesture of thanks! Melody and innovation live!
Aadesh Shrivastava has been doing exemplary work for two years. Last year he gave us much reason to rejoice with his songs in "Chalte Chalte" and "Baghbaan". Now in "Dev", Shrivastava collaborates with Govind Nihalani who's worked with A.R. Rahman in his earlier foray into star-studded commercial cinema "Takshak".
Remember the Asha Bhosle hit "Rang de" in Nihalani's "Takshak"? There is a colourful ripple across the intense and sinuous soundtrack of "Dev" too. It's called "Rang deehni".
Kailash Khare, who rose to sudden fame with last year's "Allah ke bande" in "Waisa Bhi Hota Hai Part-II", joins voices with Mahua of the pop band Viva and Shraddha Pandit, who's the composer's niece, to create a ravishing tune done up in trendy shades of Raga Darbari.
Sonu Nigam is unrecognisable in "Tujh sang". In the song written by director Govind Nihalani, the versatile singer scales new heights of emotive expression.
Kareena Kapoor turns singer in the quaintly assembled "Jab nahin". Lyricist Nida Fazli's words are like fresh air blowing through a corridor filled with memories and other intangibles. Kareena hasn't just recited a few poetic lines but actually sung the entire song and carried the notes with extreme care and delicacy.
Composer Aadesh Shrivastava's wife Vijayta sings the other version of "Jab nahin".
And to climax the star line-up, Shrivastava gets Amitabh Bachchan to recite the lines about duty and death in the end piece.
In fact, the Bachchan-Shrivastava combination has always worked. Whether it was "Major Saab" or "Baghban", and now "Dev", the composer seems to be fully inspired when he tunes for a Bachchan-starrer.
"Dev" isn't an album about gimmicky sounds. It pulls no punches and yet manages to wallop a smart blow on our sensibilities. The versatile and virile sounds include my favourite track "Allah hoo" where Shrivastava gets vocally ambitious in the seductive company of the inimitable Asha Bhosle.
Seldom in any of her recent songs has Bhosle sounded so richly articulate. The first rate arrangement of the track makes "Allah hoo" a rhythmic tour de force.
From the splendid Sufi sounds that open "Rang deehni", where Kailash Khare sings the secular words of Nida Fazli about the "Bhagvad Gita" co-existing with the "Quran", to the closing moments when the soundtrack reaches an unforgettable climax, "Dev" is a musical odyssey that we aren't likely to forget in a hurry.
This is certainly one of the finest, most vibrant albums of the season, and one that proves Aadesh Shrivastava to be one of our most worthy composers.
For the discerning listener, "Dev" is a once-in-a-blue moon experience. As for those who just want to hear Kareena croon, there's a treat waiting for you. Go for it.